Local 56 Executive Board Members

President: Bennie Keys
Vice-President: Kevin Murphy
Secretary / Treasurer: Paul Austin

Board Members:
Michael Doyle, Christina Fong, Charles Johnson, Robert Johnson, Sterling Jenkins

President: Bennie Keys

Bennie Keys is a jazz & pop drummer and has been a member of Local 56 since 1989. He was elected to the Local 56 Executive Board, later becoming the Vice President, and in 2018 was elected President. He has been  on the Diversity Council for the American Federation of Musicians for several years. If you would like to contact him, his number is 813-0753, E-mail him at bkeys@hopenetwork.org.

 

Vice President: Kevin Murphy

Kevin Murphy has been a member of Local 56 since 2000 and became a Board Member in 2008. As of January 2019 he was elected as acting Vice President. He has a Bachelor Degree in Music Education from Aquinas College, studied at Berkley Jazz Music Conservatory in Boston, attended the Guitar Institute of Technology in Los Angeles and teaches privately on guitar, sax, bass and voice. Kevin has played music professionally most of his life, currently fronting his own band, Murphy's Law on sax, vocals and guitar, and he also does a solo act. Over the years, he has opened for the God Father of Soul  - "Mr. James Brown", played with Junior Walker's All-Star Band as well as some Motown groups while living in Hollywood. He also does vocal recording, musical arranging and orchestration for area local Artist.

I support youth who want to pursue live music because it can be very helpful when those who are involved take an interest in them. Both Elementary and High Schools cease to have art's programs  because of budget cut backs and as a result we as a musical committee need to be vibrant and visible. This helps make young people aware that there are positive choices that are within reach. 'Living the Dream' as one might call it.  I have two beautiful daughters and I am still a free spirit. My pursuit of the martial arts encompasses a combination of styles; as a result, my approach seems to be a bit unorthodox but effective."

Secretary / Treasurer: Paul Austin

For decades, Paul Austin has been an active member of the American Federation of Musicians. Through his leadership roles in Regional Orchestra Players' Association (ROPA) and the International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians (ICSOM), Paul has served on the AFM's Media Committee since 2008 and has been an AFM Strike Fund Trustee since 2019.

Paul has been been a French horn player in the Grand Rapids Symphony since 1999 and has seen the importance of Local 56 in the GRS contract negotiations, serving as co-chair of the Negotiations Committee four times. Paul holds degrees from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music and the Tennessee Tech University, was a Resident Artist at the Banff Centre for the Arts in Canada, and studied in London, England as the recipient of a Gilmore Emerging Artist Grant.

Board Member: Christina Fong

 

Christina Fong was elected to the Board of Directors for Local 56 in January 2017.
A member of the Grand Rapids Symphony and the Local 56 since 1988, Fong is currently Associate Concertmaster and plays in the Symphony’s Calder Quintet, which tours western Michigan giving civic and educational concerts. From 1990 to 2002 Fong served as an adjunct instructor of violin at Grand Valley State University.

 Michigan resident Christina Fong is a leading performer of new music on the violin and viola. Fong’s series of recordings on OgreOgress, mostly world premieres, include several of Cage’s final works (the ‘number pieces’ One6, One10, Two4, Four, Twenty-Three and Twenty-Six with Twenty-Eight & Twenty-Nine), Feldman’s complete violin, viola and piano works, his Violin and String Quartet and three early quartets, Hovhaness’s published works for violin, viola and keyboard and three of his concertos with strings, several Schoenberg string works and fragments, Alvear’s Fuerzas for viola and string quartets by Beardsley, Toub, Kotlowy and Prokop. The diverse group of artists in collaboration include sitarist Gaurav Mazumdar, keyboardist Arved Ashby, cellist Karen Krummel, percussionist Glenn Freeman, pianist Paul Hersey, the Prague Winds, shō player Tamami Tono, the Rangzen Quartet & Strings, conductor Rastislav Štúr and the Slovak Philharmonic.

Fong has bachelor's and master's degrees from Northwestern University, where she graduated Pi Kappa Lambda and was awarded the honorary title “Eckstein Scholar.” Her principle violin teachers were Blair Milton, Myron Kartman and Donna Schaff. She studied orchestral music with Samuel Magad, Rubin Gonzales, Francis Akos, Charlie Pikler, Blair Milton and Edgar Muenzer and received chamber music coaching from Gerardo Ribiero, Donald Owens and Ray Still. Fong has held positions with the Florida Philharmonic and Civic Orchestra of Chicago. In 2010 Fong was recipient of a Fulbright Hayes grant and served as a US cultural representative in Minsk, Belarus where she performed a new music concert with the Belarus Philharmonic and gave master classes at the Belarus State Academy of Music.

 

Board Member: Sterling Jenkins

A violinist with the Grand Rapids Symphony since 1997, Sterling Jenkins grew up in the rich cultural environment of our nation's capital with its domestic and international diversity. He displayed his talent at the early age of 6 with a performance of Bach's Double Violin concerto at the National Cathedral.

“Music is for everyone” is his fundamental musical principle. Through his violin playing, he has captivated diverse audiences by revealing the common threads linking classical, gospel, jazz, ethnic and contemporary music together. This has allowed classical repertoire to reach new ears that may have found traditional performances inaccessible or alienating. He believes that everyone can have a transformational appreciation of music. 

Board Member: Charles C. Johnson

Minister Charles Christopher Johnson, born February 7 1970.  He graduated from Muskegon High School in 1988 and received a scholarship to attend Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo. Later, Minister Johnson transferred to the "School of Music" at the University of Memphis. While in Memphis, he partnered in ministry under the leadership of Bishop Lee Ward of Greater Harvest COGIC.  

Minister Johnson is a registered member of the Grand Rapids Musicians Union Local-56 and AFL-CIO. He is registered as a free-lance affiliate member of the National Academy of Recording Arts & Science (NARAS) of the Grammy Association where he appears on 9 recording projects ranging from Gospel, Contemplative Worship and Jazz. Charles is a classical jazz bassist and has performed with many music masters including ten time Grammy winner Bobby McFerrin, nine-time Grammy winner Janis Siegel of the Manhattan Transfer, and Internationally known jazz vocalist Mark Murphy -noted folk singer / songwriter.  As a Production Manager for thr Best of Jazz & Savoir Faire Productions Charles has produced shows for jazz saxophonist Art Porter Jr. and Joe Sample among others.

When transferring to Memphis, Charles furthered his studies in Music Performance, Artist Development, and Pre-Law Music Business. Charles hopes to foster music innovation and create jazz inspired music that transcends a particular genre. Something that's refreshing and universal.  

Board Member:  Robert Johnson

Robert Johnson began his double bass studies at the age of 18 with Edward Fedewa, earning his BM from Central Michigan University. He also completed MM and doctoral degrees at Michigan State University studying under Jack Budrow. Other teachers include Stephen Molina of the Detroit Symphony, Scott Dixon of The Cleveland Orchestra, and the faculty of Domaine Forget. Robert is an active freelancer, playing in orchestras all over the state of Michigan and throughout the U.S. Other appearances include Dallas Winds, Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. He was appointed Section Bass with the Grand Rapids Symphony in 2022 and works as a luthier at Grand Rapids Violins. He has been a member of Local 56 since 2011.

Board Member: Michael S. Doyle

Michael S. Doyle was born and raised in New York City. He began his musical studies in elementary and junior high school studying under Arnold Warmbrand and Hiram Colon. He started playing professionally as a student of the Talent Unlimited High School for the Performing Arts and participated in Jazz workshops in New York City. Michael's high school junior and senior year presented him great opportunities to become a member of the New York City All City High School and the McDonald's Tri-State Jazz Ensembles both under the direction of Justin DiCioccio. Michael studied at the New School University Jazz Studies program with Branford Marsalis, Dr. Donald Byrd, and David Liebman (to name a few). During his early tenure in the U.S. Army Band program Michael had the opportunity to study at the Armed Forces School of Music studying saxophone under First Sergeant Stephen Mohacey who was a mentor to him in both classical and jazz genres.

 Michael has performed with actress Nell Carter, Frank Foster (saxophonist formerly with the Count Basie Orchestra), Jerry McKenzie (Drummer formerly with the Stan Kenton Orchestra), and actor Jim Nabors. He has also performed with Lynyrd Skynyrd, Jaki Byard, Cecil Bridgewater, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Blue Note Records recording artist Bill Dowdy and Milt Hilton. He has performed with the Grammy nominated Grand Rapids Symphony. In addition to performing with Big Band Nouveau, Michael also performs with the award winning Evidence Jazz Group, Who Dat Blues Band, Orquesta Tradicion, Bob DeSena Latin Jazz group, and Stone Soul Rhythm Band, as well as other freelance work. As an educator, Michael has taught and lectured on both high school and college levels representing Selmer saxophones, Nadir Saxwinds/Wedge Distribution (Dave Guardala mouthpieces), and Roberto's Winds reeds.
 

Michael received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Western Michigan University majoring in music with an art history minor. He studied with Tom Knific, Dr. Robert Ricci, and Trent Kynaston. Michael received a Master of Music degree in Jazz Studies from Michigan State University studying under Rodney Whitaker, Diego Rivera, Wess "Warmdaddy" Anderson and Derrick Gardner, Etienne Charles, Randy Gelispie, Sunny Wilkinson, Dr. Ken Prouty, and Ric Roe.